Stay Alive is a movie that came out in 2006 about a video game that kills you. Some what of a rip off of The Ring and also a huge misleading history lesson on a woman named Elizabeth Bathory. The movie actually isn’t that bad. The biggest problem I had with it was that they cut it down to a PG-13 rating in the theaters, which cut out a whole bunch of things that would have helped the movie make a lot more sense than it did. Now, is the movie perfect when it’s unrated? No, far from it, but it is a much better and coherent story than what was presented with the PG-13 version. As usual, this will not be a spoiler-free review so stop reading here if you don’t want to be spoiled.
The movie starts off with a guy named Loomis and he’s testing a video game (as far as I’m aware) because this game hasn’t been released yet and he works for a company that does that. The first few shots you see are in-game CGI and his character running around. He eventually gets attacked by Elizabeth Bathory and is killed. Then you see him in real life and his friend calls. His friend is a guy named Hutch and they talk about the game and Hutch coming to visit and all of that. Then Loomis goes and talks to his roommates who are having sex on the bed, tells him that he “found their bodies in the game”. Then he’s down in the kitchen and some creepy shit happens. He runs back upstairs, finds his roommates dead (the female is hanging and drained of blood) and he’s eventually some how wrapped in something and pushed off the stairs to hang himself.
Then we go to Hutch who is working at some place, and his boss apparently only hired him to help him with video games. He finds out about his friend there and goes to his funeral. His sister gives him a box of stuff that she didn’t want or couldn’t have cause it was all violent video games. This includes the game Stay Alive which Hutch and his friends all decide to go on later to play. At the funeral he meets a girl named Abigail who is taking pictures of a bunch of shit, cause that’s totally not rude to do at a funeral. She’s kinda hot but has that whole blond with black eyebrows thing going on so it’s rather distracting.
Hutch tells his friends about the game and they all have weird ass hipster and gamer type names. Swink, October, Phin, and of course October is a goth chick (never would have guessed that right?). They all decide to play this game together because despite being a test game it’s also one that you can play online I guess? Not sure how his boss even got a copy to join them to play on his computer at work. Seriously, this was 2006, I don’t think technology was that advanced. If I remember correctly this was when the PS2 was a hot ticket item still. They all seemed to be using PS2 controllers as well, but his friends were playing on a console and his boss was playing on his computer. This makes no sense, especially for 2006.
They all make their characters and then his boss’s character is the first to get killed. Well, what do you know? He dies the same way he did in the game. Just as Loomis did and his roommates did. Things get weird and of course the police think that Hutch is the one who’s doing all of this. Hutch tries to tell him it’s the game, but of course people think he’s nuts and…well if they didn’t we wouldn’t have a movie. The head detective is less of an asshole about it than his assistant douche though.
They slowly figure out that how you die in the game is how you will die in real life. October knows all this goth chick stuff to help them fight the ghosts and whatever. This is when the story of Elizabeth Bathory is introduced. Except it’s all fucking so historically inaccurate it makes my brain hurt. I mean they literally use that name. Why they couldn’t have invented a totally different person similar to Bathory, I have no idea. They claim that she was a plantation owner in the south back in slave times. That she would lure young girls there to kill them and to bathe in their blood. Now this is all true except for the fact that Elizabeth Bathory was Hungarian and never had anything to do with America. Sorry, it just irks me that they cheaped out on just making something slightly more original. Or just using a different name.
October reads a book which she says is called “The Malleus Demonium” but when I went to google that (to see if it’s real) I found out it’s actually called “The Malleus Maleficarum” and it is in fact the book she was saying she was reading, The Witches Hammer. Some how they managed to screw up two very easy things that aren’t that hard to screw up. Did anyone actually do any minor fact checking on it? Okay sorry this is really nitpicky and I don’t think people research these things to the level I do. The book says to kill Elizabeth Bathory you have to put a nail through her forehead, chest, and…neck? Maybe? Sorry I don’t remember.
Then Phin is killed because he’s run over by a carriage in the middle of the day. Like a horse drawn carriage. The police some how still suspect Hutch despite no evidence that he even has access to a carriage like this. They decide to find the house that’s in the video game and surprise surprise, it’s not far from where they are. Also, Swink is some how able to play this game on a laptop while Abigail and Hutch are investigating this plantation. Oh and at this point October has died as well because she attempted to go after Elizabeth in an abandoned house type deal and kill her but it didn’t work.
Now as Hutch moves through the plantation area he is talking to Swink who is able to unlock doors and drop things and all of that in the game, and this enables Hutch to find those things in the house in real life. Despite all the cheesiness from before (and mistakes from before) I actually think it’s is a really cool scene or series of scenes. Abigail (Cause she’s a girl) gets attacked by Elizabeth and Hutch has to save her and all of that. Whatever. End of movie.
Considering the time it came out (2006) and given the fact that the idea was original (and would have been way better had it not been cut down to PG-13) I like this movie. I liked it enough to go back and watch it instead of attempting to review it via memory. I think it’s worth a go. The acting is really good, the characters are realistic, and even the goth girl isn’t too overly goth she’s more like hipster/punk goth and it’s not in an annoying “2Edgy4Me” way. If you can get your hands on an unrated copy of this movie (and trust me it’s not that hard) give it a chance. I really wish they’d either do a sequel or at least make another movie with this type of premise, especially now that video games are far more interactive and advanced than they were 11 years ago.